Dr. Marlene Winell is a human development consultant, educator, and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her background includes 28 years of experience in human services, in both community and academic settings. She holds a doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University, and specializes in communications training for couples. She is the author of Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion. Her services related to recovery from religion can be found at

More about Marlene Winell

Welcome & Overall Approach

Thank-you for visiting my website. You will find information here about who I am, my services, events, writings, and media. As a human developmentalist (my Ph.D. is in Human Development and Family Studies), I seek to help people move through normal life transitions in a way that maximizes their opportunities for personal growth.  I believe my approach is compassionate, yet direct, educational, and action-oriented. I assume a basic respect for people's intuitive abilities and strengths, emphasizing empowerment.  I focus on helping people gain knowledge and skills for long-term personal growth, as an investment beyond an immediate need.  A developmental approach is about thriving instead of surviving.  My training in social ecology also gives me an awareness to help people consider the social, economic, and cultural context of the issues we discuss, and not just personal dynamics.



  • This article by Pete Walker is a good explanation of "emotional flashbacks" which result from childhood neglect and emotional abuse.  In essence, current stress can trigger old pain; recognizing the signs and learning to manage the emotional reactions is important for healthy functioning.  I think that this work provides valuable insights that coincide with my own approach with taming the "idea monster" and learning to actively care for one's inner child.   -- Marlene Winell (more)

  • This article by Michael Friedman, a mental health professional and author, explains why self-expression in the arts is beneficial for mental health.  Read the PDF here.

  • I work extensively with couples, using an educational approach.  This means we will address the issues you have now but I will also help you gain skills for new ways of relating that you can apply to other concerns in the future.  Many people have old habits and can benefit from learning new patterns that will improve intimacy generally.  A course of work with me on Relationship Development, is an investment for the long-term if you want to go beyond immediate problems. (see below for package discount)

  • When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

    A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.  When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very  large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

    He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. (more)

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